One an offensive juggernaut, the other a staunch defender, Robinson High girls’ soccer seniors Audrey Barry and Ali Heck, both First Team All-Northern Region standouts, gave the Rams two of the area’s most dynamic players this past spring season.
The duo, both set to play the collegiate game at William & Mary next school year, were key components for a Robinson team which captured the Patriot District title, reached the region finals and qualified for the state playoffs.
Robinson’s season came to an end last Tuesday, June 8 with a first round state AAA quarterfinals loss at Loudoun Valley High in Purcellville. It marked the final high school game for eight Rams’ seniors, including four-year varsity starters Heck and Barry.
Heck, the Rams’ right marking back this season, has been Robinson’s key marking defender throughout her career. When the Rams have needed to shut down a particular opponents’ player, Heck has been the stopper called upon to do so.
“Ali’s going to be a tough kid to replace,” said Robinson coach Jim Rike, who led the Rams to the state title two years ago. “We’ve been blessed over the years by some very good defensive players.”
The coach realized he had a special player in Heck prior to her freshmen season at Robinson.
“Because of her speed and intelligence,” he said.”She’s very consistent and has been a solid performer for four years. She’s one of those kids you can count on.”
Barry, meanwhile, has spear-headed the Rams’ offense. Despite being constantly double-teamed this season, she still scored 13 goals. She also had an incredible 16 assists.
“She’s been one of our leading scorers, if not our leading scorer, since her freshmen year,” said Rike. “She was an impact player as a freshman. Everybody knows Audrey, everybody marks Audrey. She’s been double-teamed since the beginning of the year.”
But Barry made teams pay for focusing so much on her by getting the ball to teammates for scoring chances.
“She started laying the ball off to other girls and they started scoring,” said Rike.
On six occasions as a junior in 2009, Barry connected on six game-winning goals, including an overtime score in a first round region playoff victory over Stone Bridge.
“You want her to get the ball late in the game,” said Rike.
Both Barry and Heck have been recognized as outstanding players throughout their careers. Barry earned First Team All-Met honors this season, and was Second Team All-Met the two years before. She has also twice been named an All-South player while also earning High School All-American status two times.
Heck is a three-time First Team All-Met player and has also been an All-South selection two times. Last year she was also an ESPN All-American.
<b>THE RAMS’ SEASON-ENDING</b> loss to Loudoun Valley last week was particularly frustrating. Robinson, used to playing on larger fields, played on the smaller scaled Vikings’ home turf and never really got comfortable.
Valley broke through for the game’s only goal midway through the first half in the 1-0 setback.
“Statistically, it was a dead-even game,” said Rike, who said both teams earned three corner kicks apiece during the contest. “We played well on defense. [On offense] the shots we got off, their goal-keeper did a good job of stopping. They just kind of packed everything [defensively].”
Robinson’s best scoring chance came later in the first half after Loudoun Valley had already scored. Off a Rams’ corner, Heck nearly scored on a close-range header attempt, but a Vikings’ defender got a foot on the ball to knock the chance out of danger.
As it turned out, Valley’s one goal stood up.
“They were sitting on a one goal lead and they were able to kill the time,” said Rike.
Loudoun Valley went on to lose its following game to Cosby High (Midlothian) in penalty kicks. Cosby then went on to fall to unbeaten Stone Bridge - a team which earlier in the postseason had beaten Robinson, 2-1, in the Northern Region title game - in the state championship game last Saturday at Westfield High School.
Rike said his team was mentally ready for its state playoff game with Valley. The Rams, four days prior to playing the Vikings, had fallen to Stone Bridge in the region title game played at Lake Braddock High School.
In the region semifinals, with both the season and a state seeding on the line, Robinson had played outstanding in a 4-1 win over Westfield on June 2 at Lake Braddock High School. Rike said his team was not quite as sharp two nights later against Stone Bridge. Even so, the Rams (13-5-2) played the Bulldogs tough throughout in the one-goal loss.
“They weren’t terribly down,” said Rike, of his team’s reaction to the region championship game loss. “It was a 2-1 game and could have gone either way. I don’t think [that loss] had a real effect on our intensity at states. We were rested [for Valley] and ready to play. We just didn’t adjust to their small field.”
Robinson’s seniors who played their final season for the Rams this spring are: Allie Beck, Brooke Curtis, Cole Miller, Ali Heck, Jackie Bond, Audrey Barry, Kathryn Johnston, and Jensen Smith. The team’s four team captains were Curtis, Heck, Barry and Smith.